Genuine Northwest, Winter Edition

Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.

Illinois Lincoln Highway Interpretive Mural

10 S. Second St., Geneva,

Located at the Geneva Masonic Lodge in the heart of downtown, this large mural celebrates America’s first transcontinental highway.

When it was first conceived in 1912, the Lincoln Highway stretched from New York City to San Francisco, passing through portions of Chicago and the Fox River Valley along the way.

The 10-foot by 20-foot mural depicts Geneva as it would have looked to those first motorists. It was designed with the help of photographs taken between 1913 and 1928, and it includes Masonic symbols.

The Lincoln Highway today passes 179 miles of Illinois roadways, including state Route 31, along the Fox River, and Route 38, through downtown Geneva. This mural is one of 35 such pictures. You can also find tribute murals along the route in St. Charles, Batavia and Aurora. Each one was hand-painted under the watchful eye of the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition.

“Geneva played an important role in connecting the cities of the Fox River Valley to the Lincoln Highway,” the mural reads. “The city was eager to cater to the newly motoring public by offering well-lit, paved streets, a stop-and-go light and a motorcycle policeman to assist the busy drivers.”

Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County

1899 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville, (847) 968-3400,

This museum provides an interactive walk through Lake County’s history, but it’s also a tribute to Bess Bower Dunn, Lake County’s first official historian. She traveled the county photographing historical sites and personally found many of the artifacts and documents within the museum’s collections.

Opened early in 2018, the Dunn Museum is the latest iteration of the Lake County Discovery Museum, which, before it closed in 2016, operated for 40 years out of converted farm buildings at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda.

The new location offers more than twice the gallery space for exhibitions, teaching areas and public research.

Permanent exhibits include The First People, the story of Native Americans in Lake County, and An American Frontier, portraying Lake County’s first white settlers in the early 1830s.

Youngsters especially love the life-like dinosaur, one of the world’s only scientifically accurate, life-sized models of a Dryptosaurus dinosaur that would have roamed Lake County 67 million years ago. Nearby is a large, fossil-covered rock that’s estimated to be 420 million years old.

The museum hosts a variety of educational programming, including school field trips, in-school programs, summer camps and guided tours.

Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

Colonel Palmer House

660 E. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-5873

Gustavus A. Palmer and his wife, Henrietta, came to McHenry County from New York by covered wagon in 1841.

A colonel in the 205th New York Infantry during the American Revolution, Palmer’s friends and neighbors affectionately knew him as “The Colonel.”

In addition to being a successful farmer, Palmer was one of the first postmasters at the city’s Dearborn Post Office and a founding member of the Nunda Masonic Lodge, in what’s now Crystal Lake.

Palmer recruited local builder Andrew Jackson to build his Greek Revival and Federalist-style brick house in 1858. Many of the home’s original elements are still in place, including plaster walls, a hand-carved walnut banister and southern pine floors.

The Palmers lived in the house until their deaths in 1884. It then became a place where tenant farmers lived while maintaining the former Palmer farm.

As part of an annexation agreement, the Palmer House was donated to the City of Crystal Lake in 1979 and a group of dedicated citizens raised funds to restore the property, which joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

In 1997, the house became the first property to receive the city’s landmark designation, which protects it from demolition, neglect or changes to the exterior.

The Crystal Lake Historical Society is currently using a portion of the house for an office and library space.